In silico evolutionary developmental neurobiology and the origin of natural language

Eörs Szathmáry, Zoltán Szathmáry, Péter Ittzés, Gergo Orbaán, István Zachár, Ferenc Huszár, Anna Fedor, Máté Varga, Szabolcs Számadó

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (Scopus)


It is justified to assume that part of our genetic endowment contributes to our language skills, yet it is impossible to tell at this moment exactly how genes affect the language faculty. We complement experimental biological studies by an in silico approach in that we simulate the evolution of neuronal networks under selection for language-related skills. At the heart of this project is the Evolutionary Neurogenetic Algorithm (ENGA) that is deliberately biomimetic. The design of the system was inspired by important biological phenomena such as brain ontogenesis, neuron morphologies, and indirect genetic encoding. Neuronal networks were selected and were allowed to reproduce as a function of their performance in the given task. The selected neuronal networks in all scenarios were able to solve the communication problem they had to face. The most striking feature of the model is that it works with highly indirect genetic encoding-just as brains do.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmergence of Communication and Language
PublisherSpringer London
Number of pages37
ISBN (Print)1846284910, 9781846284915
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)

Cite this

Szathmáry, E., Szathmáry, Z., Ittzés, P., Orbaán, G., Zachár, I., Huszár, F., Fedor, A., Varga, M., & Számadó, S. (2007). In silico evolutionary developmental neurobiology and the origin of natural language. In Emergence of Communication and Language (pp. 151-187). Springer London.